Most people will tell you that eating beef is unsustainable.
For years, cows and fat have been vilified, with red meat being blamed for not only for causing cancer and heart disease, but also ruining our planet.
As we discovered in last month’s article entitled “Is the Carnivore Diet good for you?” this is simply not the case. Recent research conducted by the Journal of American Cardiologists has shown that saturated fats and organ meats are everything your body needs to survive and thrive.
But what about raising grass fed beef sustainably?
Starting Steak Club five years ago began a transformational journey for me. It has led me to study permaculture, travel the world to look at best practices, and beginning this Spring, starting Adam Grows EDEN to provide Regenerative Agriculture services.
The purpose of this blog article is to demonstrate how current practices of raising beef are unsustainable and prove to you that raising grass-fed beef can not only be sustainable, but a solution to the world’s ecological crisis.
The Problem: Why is Eating Beef Unsustainable?
Vegans, Bill Gates and the big agricultural companies will all tell you that eating a plant-based diet will help solve the climate crisis (we will explain why this is a bad idea later on).
Cows and the growing demand for meat are blamed as the main culprit.
If you look at how livestock is currently raised it is undoubtedly unsustainable.
Known as fixed stocking, cows are left on pasture, rarely moved, resulting in overgrazing, soil compaction and net topsoil loss.
This is by far the most used cow-rearing system on the planet, with practically 98% of cattle operations using this method.
Add to this that:
– 80% of arable land is used to grow livestock feed for factory farms
– the concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFO’s) that spread disease
– the antibiotics given to animals spending too much time in their own faeces
– the methane coming out of these operations.
With this picture, I can understand why many people choose to go vegan.
But they forget something important.
It is not the what that is to blame, but the how.
The Solution: How to Raise Grass Fed Beef Sustainably
Mob stocking or mixed livestock rotation, is far more productive than continuous grazing.
Cows eat forage and are moved daily, taking 5 minutes a day to move.
And that’s the only real difference. Move your cows everyday!!!
It’s up to the rancher to lay out a portable electric fence to encourage cows to behave like they do in nature – moving around in herds.
Known as the 3 M’s or Moving, Mobbing, and Mowing, cows herd together, and are moved from paddock to paddock every day.
If you don’t do this, then an asset turns into a liability, and 98% of domesticated herbivores violate one of these three key principles.
This is why cows rearing is currently totally unsustainable.
It is how you raise your livestock.
People forget that animals have evolved for millions of years to perform a specific set of functions in nature.
The problem is that the current agriculture system prefers factory farms to recreating livestock’s natural habitat.
Of course there are a few more things one must do. This includes resting paddocks for roughly 2 months and supplying 100 liters a day of water to each cow per day.
If you’re interested in more details, look up #holsticmanagement.
What are the benefits of Grass-Fed, Pasture-Raised Beef?
By turning a liability into a net positive, cows can genuinely save the planet.
Grasslands need proper grazing to turn soil into a carbon sink, adding carbon at far higher rates than growing new forests.
Mob grazing also turns grasslands into perennial grasses, as cows when herded will graze everything (unlike fixed stocking where they only eat what they like). This slowly changes the pasture to perennial plants and allows you to keep more cattle per hectare.
Joel Salatin (video link below), can have 5 times more cows on his land than the county average (80 cows/acre vs. 400 cows/acre!!!)
But what about methane? When you have pasture with perennial grasses (instead of annual plants), the soil contains methanotrophic bacteria. This bacteria sucks up any excess methane, able to handle around 2500 cows per ha (this is obviously far more than would be necessary).
The key is how you raise cattle. The next time you get attacked by a vegan, remind them that it’s not the what but the how. Also, remind them that monoculture fields of vegetables are just as bad as factory farms.
I hope this blog post has shown you that raising livestock is more than sustainable. It can feed our planet, repair degraded landscape.
Here’s one more fun fact! 4 days after cows graze a paddock, run chickens behind them. They will scratch up cow patties, eat fly larvae, insects and worms. No more deworming your cows, no more flies and you’ve turned a waste stream into eggs (there is more animal protein per insect than meat or milk).
If you would like to learn more, you can visit one of our websites www.adamgrowseden.com or www.greenstitute.com
As for where we got our information, 1000’s of hours reading books and finding the best online resources. Check out the following links:
Greg Judy | Regenerative Rancher
Cows, Carbon and Climate | Joel Salatin | Tedx
Starting Q2 2021 we will be raising our own cows and begin the task of regenerating the planet.
Do you have any questions?
Either get in contact with us, or sign-up to the newsletter to get invites to barbecues at farms we will be working to turn to regenerative practices..